Quiet flows the Dawki
I was on an assignment to photo document the work done by “Mission for Vision” (MFV) with their partner Bansara Eye Care Center (BECC).

I was on an assignment to photo document the work done by “Mission for Vision” (MFV) with their partner Bansara Eye Care Center (BECC). Mission for Vision is an NGO working to combat avoidable blindness and promote a disability inclusive world. In partnership with 21 reputed centers in 14 states of India, MFV has played the role of a catalyst in restoring sight and renewing independence and dignity in over a million adults and children. MFV supports BECC in reaching out to the people residing in the remotest parts of Meghalaya.

I traveled with the MFV team and the outreach workers of BECC to Dawki in the West Jaintia hills and was fascinated by the dedication and perseverance of the outreach workers who travel to the most remote areas educating people about the importance of eye health, doing preliminary check-ups and convincing them of perfect vision through free of cost cataract surgery. It takes a tremendous effort on their part to convince people that they are blind due to ignorance, that cataract is curable and that they have the right to sight and the right to life. At times it takes many such visits to help people come out of their shell and agree to a surgery that is free of cost.

Marbiang (BECC outreach worker) is responsible for transporting the teams to the most remote parts on non-existent roads, safely and comfortably. He is also responsible of transporting patients from their village to the BECC center and safely back. He has been doing this since the last 3 years. He also pitches in with the auto-refraction machine on a rare occasion when they are particularly short on hands at the outreach eye camps.

Juban has been an outreach worker at BECC since 2010. He is responsible for the areas to the north of the Dawki and is the key coordinator for all outreach activities, eye camps, patient scheduling and transport etc in these areas.


Miwang is 55 years old and lives in Darrang village, about 90 kms from Shillong, very close to the India-Bangladesh border. She and her four member family and almost everyone in this village, earn their livelihood by collecting and sorting betel nuts in a betel nut and betel leaf farm, owned by landowners living about 20 kms away in a relatively accessible Dawki village along the Umngot (Dawki) river. When Miwang got cataract in her left eye, the vision had reduced to being FC (finger counting). This hampered her work of accurately counting the betel nuts and she had to stop working altogether. Then an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist), trained under the community development project of BECC (Bansara Eye Care Center), in course of her home visits found a despondent Miwang and took her to the nearest eye camp where she was diagnosed with cataract. Miwang was told about the availability of free cataract surgery in Shillong at SPECS (Society for Promotion of Eye Care and Sight, a charitable society formed by BECC (Bansara Eye Care Center). Miwang traveled in the hospital vehicle for her surgery and returned home with post-surgery vision of 6/9. Now Miwang works in a neighbor’s house for a daily wage of Rs.150 to segregate 6-7 bags of accurately counted betel nuts. She also cooks for the family and is known to make particularly good jack fruit curry.

2 days of travel along the Dawki with these outreach workers have actually helped me come out of my blindness towards the life issues faced by people in such remote reaches of India.

Originally published in https://maptia.com/nilanjan/stories/quiet-flows-the-dawki